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Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Alice's Adventures
in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll

Genre: FantasyLiterary nonsense
Hardcover: 208 Pages
Publication: May 19, 1992 (originally 1865)
by HarperCollins


On a golden afternoon, young Alice follows a White Rabbit, who disappears down a nearby rabbit hole. Quickly following him, she tumbles into the burrow - and enters the merry, topsy-turvy world of Wonderland. A series of whimsical escapades and nonsensical obstacles dictate Alice's journey, which culminates in a madcap encounter with the Queen of Hearts - and her army of playing cards! Is it all a dream, or just an alternate reality...?


So, I think we all know the basic story, especially if you saw the Disney film growing up. A little girl follows a White Rabbit down a rabbit hole and has this strange adventure in a place called Wonderland, all for her to wake up at the end and find out it was just a dream. However, there’s more to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland than that.

One of the best things about this story is the imagery. The various creatures Alice encounters in Wonderland, though seen briefly, are fun to meet and you are often left wondering who Alice will run into next. Since the chapter titles usually feature the names of whichever characters Alice meets, this gives the chapters the feel of being interconnected short stories, Alice being the thread that brings these stories all together.

What I really admire about Carroll’s storytelling is his ability to blur when reality ends and the dream of Wonderland starts. In the opening pages of the book, Alice is feeling sleepy when she sees the White Rabbit; it really seems as if she is following an actual rabbit, granted that it’s a rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a pocket watch. At the end when she wakes from the dream, the transition from Wonderland to reality is done so seamlessly that you can’t exactly pinpoint when it is that Alice wakes up.

Something that leaves me feeling a touch divided about the book are the characterizations. The residents of Wonderland were all either very rude or easily offended. While we don’t get thorough descriptions of each character, their interactions with Alice are the most memorable. As bland as she may be at some points, Alice is perhaps the best character. While she mainly serves as an anchor in an unusual world, she is rather level-headed considering her situation. She is pretty proper for a child of her age and tries to apply the lessons she has learned to what she goes through in Wonderland, but finds that the logic from the real world doesn’t work there. Additionally, she stands up against threats in Wonderland instead of just running away from them as she does in the movie.

I can’t talk about a plot with this book because there isn’t exactly one. The closest thing we could label as a plot is Alice’s desire to get through a tiny door and into the beautiful garden she sees through the keyhole, which turns out to be the realm of the cards, ruled over by the King and Queen of Hearts. Ultimately, though, there is a moral in the story, which comes out in the final chapter as a realization made by Alice’s older sister. Because of this incredibly vivid dream, Alice is revealed to have an incredible sense of wonder and imagination, something her sister wishes she still had herself.

If you haven't done so in a while, I recommend you check out the film adaptation, preferably the Disney version. While the idea about maintaining your imagination and sense of wonder isn't presented as strongly as it is in the book, the film is absolute eye candy and features great songs. Additionally, it incorporates elements of the following Alice story, Through the Looking Glass, pretty successfully (For this review, I actually read an edition of Wonderland that had both stories. If you would like to check it out, click here). Check out the film more for the visuals and music, though the ending isn't quite as satisfying as the one in the book.

Additional Information
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2 comments on "Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll"
  1. One of my favorites, I love getting lost in the settings of Wonderland.

  2. It really is fun, and I think it's one of the things I enjoyed most about the book, though I'm not sure if we could really say the emphasis is so much on Wonderland as a play as it is on the characters themselves. And come to think of it, I actually liked the portrayal of some of the characters better in the book than in the movie.


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